Vietnamese, Chinese coast guards conduct joint patrols in Tonkin Gulf

Vietnamese and Chinese coast guards successfully carry out a joint patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin on December 22-23, as a contribution to the waters of peace, stability, and mutually beneficial co-operation.
December 26, 2020 | 06:59
vietnam china promote negotiation on delimitation of sea areas beyond gulf of tonkin Vietnam, China promote negotiation on delimitation of sea areas beyond Gulf of Tonkin
fishermen asked to operate within vietnams waters as deal with china in tonkin gulf expires Fishermen asked to operate within Vietnam’s waters as deal with China in Tonkin Gulf expires
vietnam coast guard contributes to ensuring security in tonkin gulf Vietnam Coast Guard contributes to ensuring security in Tonkin Gulf
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Vietnamese and Chinese coast guards on December 22-23 successfully conducted a joint patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin. Photo: VNA

The joint inspection came following the Vietnam-China agreement on fishery co-operation in the Gulf of Tonkin expiring on June 30 this year, with the aim of ensuring that normal fishing activities continue while both nations hold negotiations aimed at boosting co-operation content for the following period.

The patrol targeted a total of 13 points spanning 255.5 nautical miles throughout the sea in areas adjacent to the demarcation line in the Gulf of Tonkin, VOV reported.

As initially planned, the coast guards are scheduled to patrol their own waters and then inform each other about violations which are discovered. However, unfavourable weather conditions have impeded their efforts to inspect vessels which operate in the targeted points.

Despite the Vietnam-China agreement on fishery co-operation now being invalid, both countries will continue to seriously monitor the maritime boundary agreement in the Gulf of Tonkin.

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China’s ship 4303 joining the patrol. Photo: VNA

Through the monthly exchange of information regarding violations by fishing boats, both sides have successfully raised awareness among their fishermen regarding relevant laws and regulations that are set out in the maritime boundary agreement in the Gulf of Tonkin.

The joint patrol served to enforce international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Vietnam-China agreement on the delimitation of the territorial seas. This is in addition to exclusive economic zones and continental shelves in the Gulf of Tonkin as signed by the two nations on December 25, 2000.

Most notably, it has also played an important role in preserving maritime resources in the waters whilst simultaneously ensuring sustainable exploitation, making laws more known among fishermen while operating at sea, thereby promoting traditional solidarity, neighbourliness, and friendship between the two countries. Indeed, efforts have consolidated confidence and created friendly and open relations between the coast guards and peoples of both sides.

Fishermen asked to operate solely within Vietnamese waters

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Fishing vessels docked at a port in Bạch Long Vi island in the Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam. Photo: VNA

Fishing vessels have been told to be mindful of where they operate, after the Vietnam-China agreement in the Gulf of Tonkin expired on June 30, according to the Directorate of Fisheries.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) has sent a document to People’s Committees in coastal cities and provinces regarding the management of fishing activities in the Gulf.

The document stated that the agreement, signed on December 25, 2000, took effect from June 30, 2004 to June 30, 2019, and was then extended for another year until June 30, 2020, as agreed by the two governments, according to Viet Nam News.

But now the agreement has expired, fishermen have been told they must take extra care when fishing to ensure they are not encroaching in Chinese waters.

To ensure normal fishing activities in the Gulf while the two countries negotiate the cooperation terms, the agriculture ministry has asked the People’s Committees of coastal cities and provinces to instruct relevant agencies to inform fishermen about the expiry of the agreement.

The common fishing zone and the buffer zones for small fishing boats, which were established in line with the agreement, are also no longer valid. Competent agencies of both sides will manage the operation of fishing boats in the Gulf in accordance with the delimited line as defined in Article 2 of the agreement on the delimitation of the territorial seas, exclusive economic zones, and continental shelves in the Gulf of Tonkin between Vietnam and China.

The localities were asked to instruct fishermen to maintain normal activities within Vietnam’s waters, head to sea in groups to support each other, and swiftly report violations by foreign fishing boats in Vietnam’s waters to relevant agencies.

Central and local competent agencies, particularly those in cities and provinces along the coast of the Gulf, need to intensify inspections of fishing vessels at sea to make sure that Vietnamese vessels do not get past the dividing line in the Gulf to catch fish, and report emerging incidents via the hotline of the Vietnam fisheries resource surveillance department, at 024 62 737 323./.

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